Compare Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire from the 300 CE to 1450 CE

In the beginning, the Byzantine Empire and other Western Europe societies were ruled by the Roman Empire.  According to Cooper (61 – 63) the Byzantine Empire was established after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Its foundation was based on the concept that Western Europe was on the verge of collapsing. The two societies had limited contact as Byzantine and other regions of Europe diversified. This resulted in the creation of a framework that enabled the sharing of knowledge. The focus of this essay is to compare and contrasts Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire.

Similarities

Among the key similarities observed between the Byzantine Empire and Western Europe was the presence of a Christianity, which had become dominant in the entire region. During the reign of Romans Spielvogel (234-235) reckons that Christianity was legitimatized by Emperor Constantine. Therefore, any person that professed Christianity as their faith evaded any form of punishment and torment. Indeed, the legalization of facilitated quick spread of Christianity throughout Europe and its surrounding environs. By the time the Roman Empire was collapsing, Christianity had already become a dominant religion in both Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire [. Christianity played a fundamental role in establishing both the Byzantine Empire and Western Europe during the early times. The Patriarchs had a direct influence in the governance of the Byzantine Empire. Indeed, the Pope in Western Europe was the highest religious leader with the power and influence in the political issues. Furthermore, the Western Europe society and Byzantine Europe perceived themselves as Romans. The two societies instituted Latin as their official language.  Furthermore, the two entities used hippodrome as their culture. They also engaged in horse racing and gladiatorial games as part of the recreational activities.

Differences 

In terms of governance, the Byzantine Empire used a centralized system.  An emperor ruled this society with power coming from God. A religious ceremony was organized to crown the chosen leaders. It meant that the religious and political powers of the leader were unreserved. In contrast, the governance of the Western Europe society was established by the integration of several different local kingdoms following the collapse of the Roman Empire. Even though the rulers of these kingdoms were regarded as the ultimate decision-makers, their political author was mostly dictated by strong aristocrats. Furthermore, the pope had both the religious and political authority over these kingdoms. Therefore, the Pope as alleged by Spielvogel (234-235) had the mandate of granting power to the earthly rulers. With respect to routine activities, the Byzantine Empire used trained bureaucrats whose appointment was meritocratic. The systems of Western Europe were comparatively decentralized with leadership entrusted to the local leaders. As well, in Western society, the nobles formed part of the leadership and often engaged in initiating projects, imposing taxation and making laws. In the Byzantine Empire, the regions were governed by the Military.  Another difference between the two societies was the form of economy utilized by each. Western Europe practiced Manorialism which comprised of farming activities. On the other hand, the Byzantine Empire depended on trade as the form of economic activity.

Essentially, the early society in Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire were fundamentally similar in that they comprised supreme church authority but the church denominations varied widely.  Even though most of the cultural practices had been obtained from the Greeks, Western Europe regarded themselves as Romans

 

Works Cited

Cooper, Frederick.  Empires and political imagination in world history. Princeton [u.a.: Princeton

University Press (2008) 61-64

Spielvogel Jackson Western civilization: Volume I. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth (2009) 234-   235